Deprived of Mandatory Dues, Public Sector Unions Come After Your Tax Dollars

Public sector unions could lose millions of dollars because of the Supreme Court's ruling in*Janus v. AFSCME*last month, since they'll no longer be able to compel non-members to pay dues. But a state lawmaker in New York has proposed what he calls a "workaround" to let unions continue cashing in even if they lose members.

The solution? Redirecting funds that could be used to give workers raises into the unions' own accounts.

Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) plans to introduce legislation that would allow unions to include the costs of collective bargaining in their government contracts, the*New York Post*reports. That would tap taxpayers, rather than union members, to fund unions' operations.

"I don't think there's a lot of logic to the*Janus*decision to start with, but New York state—in our Constitution and law—has long recognized that public employees have the right to collectively bargain," Gottfried tells the paper.

Of course, nothing in the*Janus*ruling prohibits public sector employees from bargaining collectively. The ruling merely says that unions cannot compel dues payment from non-members covered by collective bargaining agreements. Those mandatory dues payments—also known as "agency fees"—violate workers' First Amendment rights, the Supreme Court ruled.

"Public employees are forced to subsi*dize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bar*gaining and related activities,"*wrote*Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. "We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmem*bers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern."

Post-Janus,*union will have to convince their members that it is worth paying monthly dues to support the unions' activities.

Gottfried's proposal seems to put the interests of the union itself ahead of the interest of its members. His bill would redirect funds that could otherwise go to workers' paychecks to cover the unions' operating expenses. In a memo to colleagues in the state General Assembly, Gottfried says the bill would let public employers agree to "direct reimbursement" of the unions' bargaining costs as part of contract negotiations.

"The collectively bargained amount would then proportionally reduce the workers' salary," Gottfried wrote.

In effect, workers would instead get the leftovers after the union got paid first.